How to Treat Acne

Acne is something that worries most teenagers, and a condition that can linger right through life.  

But, how does acne occur and why?

The whole surface of our epidermis is covered by pores, which include glands. These glands create a  form of fat called sebum. When the glands produce the proper amount of sebum, every thing is okay. But once they become stimulated and begin to develop excessive sebum, the pores become clogged. This leads to an accumulation of sebum and bacteria in the pores and skin, which leads towards the formation of pimples.   The reason why acne most often occurs in puberty is mainly because at this age the sex hormones that stimulate the glands are most active, and also the reason why it can flare up in women around menopause.

Acne is not a major physical problem, though in serious cases can lead to scarring, but often causes a loss of self-confidence which is equally as damaging.  

Here are a few simple tips to help keep acne under control, and eradicate it: 

    * Wash your face 2 times per day with soap and warm water gently without rubbing hard or you can irritate the skin further and then dry it gently, but thoroughly with a clean dry towel each time.

    * Keep all chemical and synthetic products away from your skin including accidental transference from your hands from hair gels and sprays.

    * Avoid cosmetics that are oil based – mineral make up is usually the best. 

    * Resist the urge to touch infected areas, and never ‘op’ any pimples.  If you do the bacteria will penetrate deeper into the pores, resulting in a lot more pain, redness and possibly even scars.

    * identify any food allergies that may aggravate your skin – check after eating to see if any change is visible in your skin and then avoid that particular food or drink.  

 * Stress can aggravate acne so reduce it wherever possible in your life. 

* Sunlight is generally considered helpful in dealing with acne, due to increased vitamin D levels, but do it gently and carefully and never when the sun is at its hottest.  

These simple tips will help, and so will keeping your immune system strong and healthy.  Follow a natural wholefood diet, get plenty of exercise and fresh air and you should see some improvement and if it is persistent then consult a practitioner such as a homoeopath who may be able to offer more help.

How Laser Eye Surgery Helped Me

January 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Surgery


click here

I was a teenager when my eyesight started to go. There is so much you’re painfully conscious of at that age without adding glasses to the mix but by 18 I had to wear them full-time.

I hated glasses.

I didn’t feel like a glasses person. They didn’t suit me, even the coolest frames I could afford made me look like Corrie’s Reg Holdsworth (in my head at least) and with my prescription deteriorating every year or so, it cost me a fortune.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I tried to get contact lenses. I was partly sick of being speccy, but also worried that a baby would make short work of my wire frames just as soon as her tiny fingers could grab them.

The lady in the optician’s that day was very kind and patient as I sweated and had to put my head between my knees (which was rather difficult given I was five month’s pregnant).

I was so scared of fiddling with my eyes that the very idea of it made me faint. In the end, she put them in for me and I felt amazing. Until I had to try and take them out, and couldn’t do it without heaving.

She took them out for me and I decided against contacts.

I tried again a few years later. Again the optician’s assistant had to scrape the lenses out, that time with spangly acrylic fingernails. That day I did faint. And then I was sick.

I knew I’d never get my head around contacts, not with all the practise and patience in the world but I was desperately unhappy wearing specs.

When my husband and I got married, I refused to wear them, and lurched down the aisle holding onto my dad for dear life. The photographs from the day are beautiful, which is lucky, as at the time I didn’t really see the cake or my new husband looking smart and gorgeous.

I’d danced around the idea of laser eye surgery for years, but always talked myself out of it due to the cost, the grossness or the pain.

Eventually, with my 30th birthday looming I faced my fears.

The cost? Yes, it costs money, but I was spending about £200 every two years on glasses, never mind prescriptions sunglasses. So that one didn’t really stand up…

The grossness? The pain? I’ve given birth to three children.

All three births were a lot longer, more painful and icky than anything a laser could do. Yes, the idea of things happening to my eyes made me feel faint, but I kept telling myself it was a few minutes on either side for the benefit of no more specs.

I spoke to friends that had been treated, and every one of them raved about it. The  pain, they said, was more discomfort, and you were given plenty of drops.

There was nothing to lose. I went for a pre-surgery appointment at Optimax in Croydon. Realistically, it was little more than a normal eye test just with the chance to ask lots of questions (which I did).

Has anyone ever gone blind? No.
How soon can I drive? Soon after, maybe even the next day.
Will it hurt? A bit, but not for long.
What if I move? The laser shuts off instantly.

And so on… They were answered at length, with patience – I suspect they’re the same questions everyone asked.

The only person rolling their eyes was my daughter, brought along for moral support.

I was given bumf to read, terms and conditions to go through, and a date… the all important date. The surgery date.

It rolled around quickly, and several times I nearly cancelled. The truth was, for all my fear, there was never a reason to cancel that was more compelling than the idea of a glasses-free life.

On the day of surgery, I arrived with my husband and youngest child and started to go through the pile of paperwork detailing every possible – if very unlikely – side effect. I wanted to ignore them all, close my eyes and just scrawl my signature across the top but I had to go through and initial every point, to show I really had considered it.

I met the doctor, a softly spoken older gentleman who has been fixing eyes since way before I was born. He answered all my last minute (largely ridiculous) questions and I was given a cup of tea.

The ‘LASER IS ON’ sign pinged into life above an airlock-style door and I was called through.

Perhaps it was all the questions, or the slightly-green complexion, but despite my faux protestations, one of the receptionists came in and held my hand throughout the treatment. That human touch helped to hold me in my chair, and – slightly shaking- I followed all the instructions: be still, look up, look down, stare into the light.

Yes, at times, it was weird. My eyes were numbed but the skin around them wasn’t, so I could feel the outside of the contraption holding them open, but couldn’t feel it touching my eyes.

Because every detail of the surgery had been detailed to me, I knew when they were doing the ickiest bits – like making a tiny flap of cornea. That was the only time I nearly bolted.

About 15 minutes later it was over. I was led into a private room, brought a cup of tea and left to relax with my eyes closed. When I opened them, while stinging slightly, I could see. I could see better than before. I could see my husband and baby coming in to cuddle me.

I went home by taxi and slept for a couple of hours with eye shields on and that night I watched a film, without my glasses. It was breathtaking.
The next day I returned for my after care appointment and drove home, perfectly safely, with better than 20-20 vision.

A few months on and I can honestly say it has changed my life. Things that were completely out of bounds to me are feasible, sports, going out and being able to see my friends on a night out rather than staggering around, squinting; swimming with my kids.

But more than practical stuff, the effect on my confidence has blown me away. In fact, I feel pretty sad when I realise how ragged my self-image was before. Without glasses, I would feel vulnerable and stumbling; wearing glasses I would feel so out of place and frumpy. Either way, I wasn’t able to be myself, and throughout my twenties I missed out in ways I didn’t even realise before.

Since surgery, I have changed my wardrobe, wearing the clothes of a 29-year-old rather than a frumpy middle-aged woman.

I have gone out for dinner with my husband far more in the last three months than in the previous five years and I’ve even quit my job to set up my own business and work for myself. I’m not sure I would have done that six months ago.

It isn’t cheap, and it isn’t pain-free, but the discomfort and cost are minimal compared with the reawakening laser eye surgery helped me to find.  I’d recommend it to anyone.

click here

Moobies update!

October 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Surgery


The issue of man boobs, or moobies, that I mentioned a few weeks ago has resurfaced. This time with a suggested solution; cosmetic surgery.

This week at the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons annual meeting in Cardiff it was reported that a record-breaking number of men are having cosmetic surgery to reduce the size of their breasts. There has been a 44% rise in the number of men requesting the surgery, and this makes it the UK’s fifth most popular surgery for men.

Plastic Surgery Partners surgeon Dai Davies is the leading cosmetic surgeon in this area and he can assure any potential clients out there that old-fashioned standard liposuction has now moved on and they are now using Radio Frequency Assisted Liposuction (RFAL) machines that simultaneously destroy both fat cells and blood vessels, and this helps tighten and contract the access skin.

A present for Father’s Day or Christmas perhaps and certainly more novel than a pair of slippers and hopefully lasting a bit longer providing the main causes of poor diet and obesity are also tackled at the same time!

Hand transplants now a reality

September 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Surgery


Losing a hand, whether from accident or warfare, has profound psychological as well as physical implications. Now a viable form of hand transplantation is an option for selected amputees after the results of a small clinical trial with long-term follow-up. Normally amputees are offered either a prosthesis or tissue reconstruction, depending on their condition, neither of which is entirely satisfactory.

The trial followed five patients at the Louisville Center over a ten year period who had lost hands due to fireworks accidents, work-related accidents, and loss due to firearms. What is extraordinary to me is that the transplantation procedures occurred from two years to more than 30 years after amputation and since 1964, more than 40 hand transplantations have been performed worldwide, including 12 patients who received transplants of both hands.

Reasonable function does return to the hands and it has been made possible to have such prolonged survival of a transplanted hand because of the drugs that are used in kidney transplant recipients which were then developed for limb transplants. The only downside seems to be that all such transplant patients require lifetime immunosuppression regimes, but the benefits of having a ‘real’ working hand far outweigh that consideration for all the patients who have been treated.

HEALTH ALERT!! Death risk is doubled with this type of surgery and ACE inhibitors

September 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Surgery


There are so many people on blood pressure medication that this warning needs passing on if you know they are about to have heart surgery. There is a very real danger associated particularly with coronary artery bypass graft surgery and ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors.

This information comes from a study done at the Bristol Heart Institute and your GP and surgeon should both be aware of it, but I believe in being proactive when it comes to healthcare so make sure you discuss it with them.

The recommendation is that you stop taking ACE inhibitors for 2-5 days before the surgery, then restart a few days afterwards the operation. You might also like to consider that ACE inhibitors can have severe side effects such as kidney failure, dangerous potassium overload, and angioedema that can lead to fatal airway blockage.

There are other ways of dealing with hypertension including diet, exercise and stress reduction and it is worth exploring these so that you could be able to reduce the dosage of the ACE inhibitors or dispense with them altogether.

Surgery broadcast on the web

June 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Surgery


If you had a malignant tumour threatening to paralyze you then you would happily embrace the necessary surgery, but how do you feel about having it filmed and put on the web by the hospital to promote their services? This is what happened to Shila Renee Mullins when she was filmed praising the care she received at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis and her surgery and care were turned into a promotional video for the hospital to attract more patients.Can’t see it happening on the NHS, or at least not yet, though given the desire for self promotion and our five minutes of fame that seems to have gripped the nation I am certainly not counting it out. This particular surgery requires the patient to be awake and conscious during it and she was filmed talking while the scalpels went in. The resulting operation was then promoted as a webcast and with ads in the newspapers and on tv. America being the land of the beautiful, sadly Ms. Mullins was replaced in the media with an attractive model, though presumably they couldn’t CGI a more beautiful head on to the poor woman while she had the surgery.

The resulting webcast certainly had a good number of ‘hits’ as their marketing department kept track. A preview on YouTube netted 21,555 viewers while the entire webcast of the surgery slumped dramatically to 2,212 and only 3 people requested appointments – which was presumably the object of the exercise. Hospitals in the US have to compete for patients in the marketplace as does every other commodity and they have spent large sums on conventional media to attract patients, but these are highly expensive compared to the Internet. Hospitals have previously used Twitter from operating rooms, showed surgery on YouTube and had their patients blog about their procedures – back to that five minutes of fame.

Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit uses Twitter from the operating room and surgeon Dr. Craig Rogers operating room had an online observing chief resident who Twittered the following while Dr. Craig was removing an unexpectedly large tumour from a kidney. I give you his exact words online, live as it happened: “Gosh, this is big. Could I have picked a harder case for this?” The fact he knew he was being broadcast could have affected what he said, and any distraction from the surgery seems to me to e downright dangerous – if not actually unprofessional. Hospitals say patients give consent and are not compensated for any videoing but there are already plenty of people seeking surgery as a way of body sculpting and enhancing rather than as a medical procedure and there are concerns that if you will do anything to get on TV then this could be one way to do it.

My nightmare is an extension of Big Brother set in a surgical ward where they are competing for the most outrageous operation and the winner has their brain removed on prime time TV – though how much brain they would find in those contestants would be open to doubt.

Not all blogging and tweeting is a bad thing; some hospitals are using it to gain patients for clinical trials that are otherwise difficult and expensive to recruit, and to publicise fundraising or legislation for increased funds for new hospitals. However, with more than 250 hospitals now using YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or blogs, may I suggest that the moral of this story is to beware of hospitals with marketing departments.

Natural remedy support for surgery

May 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Natural Medicine, Surgery


As I seem to have been having a number of friends in hospital recently, I thought it might be timely to remind you of my pre-hospital routine if you are undergoing surgery and to add in some news about the interaction between herbs, drugs and hospitals. My own pre-surgery routine is very simple: three days beforehand I start taking Arnica 30 twice a day, plus Rescue Remedy in water. The arnica deals with trauma and emotional shock before the operation, and helps recovery of internal bruising faster and I usually ask the nurse in charge to make sure it’s under my tongue the minute I wake up and Rescue Remedy helps again with any fears arising from the operation. I keep up this regime up to a week after the operation and add in at least a gram of vitamin C as it is essential both to help support your immune system and recover from any anaesthetic by helping remove it faster from your system.

Herbs and Surgery: As more people are regularly taking supplements and vitamins as part of their healthcare routine, this timely report comes from a US team from the Department of Plastic Surgery at Cleveland’s University Hospital. They are giving this list to any patient who is undergoing surgery, for whatever reason, and I thought you would like to know about it.

* For bleeding effects: gingko biloba, garlic, ginseng, dong quai, feverfew, fish oils

* For drug interactions: echinacea, goldenseal, liquorice, St. John’s wort, kava, valerian root

* For cardiovascular effects: ephedra, garlic

* For anaesthetic effects: valerian root, St. John’s wort, kava

* For photosensitivity effects: St. John’s wort, dong quai

* For hypoglycaemia effects: ginseng

Gold particles to treat tumours

May 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Medical Research & Studies, Surgery


MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) researchers have been working on a difficult problem. Heat is an effective weapon against tumour cells, but the difficulty has been to heat patients’ tumours without damaging nearby tissues. The solution turns out be golden – in fact tiny gold particles that can home in on the tumour, and then, by absorbing energy from near-infrared light and emitting it as heat, destroy them with virtually no side effects.

Gold nanoparticles can absorb different frequencies of light, depending on their shape. Rod-shaped particles, such as those used in the research, absorb light at near-infrared frequency; this light heats the rods but passes harmlessly through human tissue. Once the nanorods are injected, they disperse uniformly throughout the bloodstream and then into blood vessels located near tumours which have tiny pores just large enough for the nanorods to enter. The nanorods then accumulate in the tumours, and within three days, the liver and spleen clear any that don’t reach the tumour itself.

During a single exposure to a near-infrared laser, the nanorods heat up to 70 degrees Celsius, hot enough to kill tumour cells, and at a lower temperature they weaken tumour cells enough to enhance the effectiveness of existing chemotherapy. Another use for this treatment is to kill tumour cells left behind after surgery. The nanorods can be more than 1,000 times more precise than a surgeon’s scalpel, and so could potentially remove residual cells the surgeon can’t get at.

The statistics on cancer are daunting. There are currently around 7 million people worldwide diagnosed and that number is projected to grow to 15 million by 2020. As the majority are treated with a combination of chemotherapy and/or radiation, they are subject to debilitating side effects because of the difficult in accurately targeting tumour tissue. At present, 99 percent of chemotherapy drugs are estimated to not reach the tumour, but the gold nanorods can specifically focus heat with a much greater accuracy to destroy the tumour.

Achilles heel? Try ultrasound not surgery

May 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Medical Research & Studies, Surgery


Damage to the Achilles Tendon (tendonitis) is no joke, and it doesn’t just happen to athletes as it is quite common in the general population and strikes men and women equally – though not everyone has the same susceptibility. Your tendon is subject to daily impact as you stride (or run) your way through life, and they are definitely designed very much for strength. Unfortunately, they have relatively little in the way of blood vessels associated with them which means they are slow to repair themselves. The usual treatment suggested is plenty of rest and ice packs, heel lifts, orthotic insoles for the shoes, and NSAID’s like ibuprofen and physical therapy. If these are not effective then surgery is the next option.

Now, however, a new study at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University in Chicago, USA, has come up with an alternative solution. The patients involved underwent ultrasound-guided debridement, of the tendon. This is a procedure that helps to break up any scar tissue within the tendon that might cause it to become stiffer than normal. The debridement stimulates an in-growth of blood vessels and results in a healing response which encourages the body’s own repair process to heal the tendon damage.

The procedure had a 60% success rate in the study with patients reporting either marked improvement in their symptoms, or that they had stopped entirely. For the patients in the trial it meant they could avoid surgery, and it looks promising to help others who have reached the end of the treatment road but don’t want to go under the knife.

Synthetic bone breakthrough

March 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Medical Research & Studies, Surgery


Australian researchers at Queensland University of Technology have developed a synthetic biomaterial that encourages the body to create bone. This breakthrough could be the answer to successful bone grafts and treating bone disease because the new material interacts with blood and activates the initial stages of bone healing.

When you break a bone your body responds immediately by attracting blood clots and specialized cells to the site. The necessary proteins, hormones and other cells are immediately dispatched to create new bone, but sometimes the body cannot carry out this natural process if the break is too great, or a tumour has been removed which leaves too great a gap for the body to fill. There are already bone grafts or synthetic materials being used but they have their limitations.

The new biomaterial encourages the body’s natural clotting process, and promotes bone growth. The difference lies in its surface structure, which is coated by a special arrangement of polymers that attract the right proteins to the damaged bone. Some polymers attract proteins and others repel them and the Australian team believe that they have got the right balance so that the new material induces the proteins and hormones needed for the initial inflammatory response that starts the bone regeneration process.

It is hoped to run a patient trial later this year and that this will be a significant move in treating the many patients who are not able to have bone grafts or other treatments to deal with their fractures.

Next Page »